Martha Christina Rebecca Heino Taylor was not a celebrity, at least not by Hollywood’s definition. She was an ordinary woman doing ordinary things in a way that touched others deeply.
She took good care of herself and enjoyed cooking healthy meals, running, biking and working out at the gym. She ran in Santa Rosa’s annual Human Race, as well as in the Cloverdale Kiwanis Club’s first marathon, and dreamed of one day running in the Boston Marathon.
She was a member of an online group of health-conscious individuals from around the world who supported each other in reaching their fitness and health goals. They are known as her “Invisifamily” and she was able to meet several of them in person over the years.
So when she was diagnosed in March 2016 with an aggressive uterine cancer, 39-year-old Marty, as she was also known, didn’t slow down, never hesitating to reach out to others who were scared, hurting and fighting their own battles: the woman in North Carolina suffering from anxiety, a Los Angeles woman recovering from a hysterectomy.
When she was told the day before Valentine’s Day she had little time to live, she decided to take matters into her own hands and make some plans.
She told her family she wanted to have a living wake, rather than a traditional funeral, so she could see all her friends one more time. She also wanted to visit the Grand Canyon so she could check off one of the items on her bucket list.
But she died Palm Sunday, five days shy of her planned event, and well before she could get to the Grand Canyon.
One of her former high school teachers was among the more than 200 people who came March 31 to the Citrus Fair to pay their respects. Several hundred others throughout the United States, Canada, Scotland, England and Guam watched online as her Celebration of Life was live-streamed by her husband.
A slideshow with over 900 photos played on a big screen and large banners with handwritten messages of condolence and even more photos lined a wall. The Cloverdale Lions set up a no-host bar and a tri-tip dinner was served.
Marty grew up in Happy Valley, east of Redding, with her brother Rob and sister Amanda. She met her future husband, Ivan Taylor, at an exchange student camp in early 1995, but it was not exactly love at first sight.
“I met this cute girl named Martha who had an interesting last name who thought I was a complete and total nerd,” he recalls.
A year later, they ran into each other again.
“I reintroduced myself in Japanese, the only words I knew, and this time we hit it off,” he said. “From then on, we never left each other’s side.”
The couple settled for a time in Healdsburg, where she landed a job as the town’s first full-time female taxi driver.
In Cloverdale, where they lived for almost 10 years, he worked for a local fabrication company and she joined the crew at Ruth McGowan’s Brewpub. She forged many strong friendships there and was known for her consistently positive attitude, willingness to be of service and brilliant smile.